(Copyright © 2000 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Von Bertalanffy's general systems theory lends itself to a natural wedding
of scientific information and philosophic meaning. General systems theory
consists in the exploration of "wholes", which are characterized by such
holistic properties as hierarchy, stability, teleology.
Laszlo advocates a return from analytic to synthetic philosophy.
Laszlo starts by offering his own take at a "theory of natural systems" (i.e., a theory of the invariants of organized complexity). At the center of his theory is the concept of "ordered whole" (a non-summative system subject to a set of constraints that define its structure and allow it to achieve adaptive self-stabilization). Laszlo then adopts a variant of Ashby's principle of self-organization, according to which any isolated natural system subject to constant forces is inevitably inhabited by "organisms" that tend towards stationary or quasi-stationary non-equilibrium states. In Laszlo's view the combination of internal constraints and external forces yields adaptive self-organization. Natural systems evolve towards increasingly adapted states, corresponding to increasing complexity (or negative entropy).
Natural systems sharing an environment tend to organize in hierarchies. The set of such systems tends to become itself a system, its subsystems providing the constraints for the new system.
Laszlo then offers rigorous foundations to deal with the emergence of order at the atomic ("micro-cybernetics"), organismic ("bio-cybernetics") and social levels ("socio-cybernetics").
A systemic view also permits a formal analysis of a particular class of natural systems, that of cognitive systems. The mind, just like any other natural system, exhibits an holistic character, adaptive self-organization, and hierarchies, and can be studied with the same tools ("psycho-cybernetics").
The basic building blocks of reality are therefore natural systems.